Plant and Soil

, Volume 314, Issue 1–2, pp 263–271 | Cite as

Assessing interactive responses in litter decomposition in mixed species litter

  • Dafeng HuiEmail author
  • Robert B. Jackson
Regular Article


The aim of this research is to propose an improved method to partition single species contributions to decomposition in mixed species litters and to detect additive or non-additive responses in litter decomposition. Using simulated data, we demonstrate that additive responses can arise from multiple conditions, including no changes in litter decomposition rates of both species in the mixtures, or an enhanced decomposition of one species and a reduced decomposition of another. Antagonistic responses can be caused by reduced decomposition of only one species, or of both species. Without partitioning of the contributions of single species proposed here, it is difficult to distinguish the different causes of the overall responses. Our analyses provide a better understanding of litter decomposition in mixtures and have significant implications for modeling litter decomposition.


Litter decomposition Mixed species Non-additive effects 



We thank Drs. Rebecca McCulley and Kirsten Hofmockel and anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions that made this manuscript much improved. This work was supported by grants from NICCR-DOE and NIGEC-DOE (through the office of Biological and Environmental Research at the Department of Energy), the National Science Foundation, the Inter American Institute for Global Change Research, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology and Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth SciencesDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesTennessee State UniversityNashvilleUSA

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